MLB favorites and underdogs split on Thursday, going 5-5 overall. However, because of the plus money payouts on the five dog winners (Astros + 175, Rangers + 157, Indians + 123, Phillies + 110, Rays + 137), the dogs produced + 1.84 units won. This means a $100 bettor made $184 last night betting dogs, despite the fact that they broke even and only won 50% of the games. This speaks to how different betting baseball is compared to other sports. If you go 5-5 on your Sunday NFL picks based on standard spread and over/under bets, you actually lost some money due to paying the juice. But in baseball, if you can isolate some valuable dogs and avoid favorites you can turn a profit even with a slightly below .500 win rate.
To put this into perspective, MLB dogs are now 220-242 on the season. This amounts to a 47.6% win rate. You would think dogs would be a losing bet since they are only winning 47.6% of the time. However, due to the plus-money payouts, betting dogs has translated to roughly + 52 units won. This means a $100 bettor has profited nearly $5,200 betting every dog this season. Moral of the story: you can win at a lower rate but still make money on these profitable dogs. This is why contrarian bettors and sharps love betting MLB every day. There are countless opportunities to maximize your edge, especially with nearly 15 games to choose from every single day. If you can pick your spots and hit on a few dogs each day, you can grind your way to profitability over the long haul.
Now it's on to Fade the Public Friday where we have a loaded betting menu filled with 15 MLB games, 10 NBA games and 7 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of Friday's action, including the top line moves, systems plays and sharp contrarian bets, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 1 p.m. ET. I will also be joining Patrick Meagher and Michael Lombardi on The Lombardi Line at 1:30 p.m. ET to offer a market update.
Remember to check the VSiN Betting Splits page every day for money and ticket counts so you can tell who the public is betting on
In the meantime, let's discuss a trio of MLB games receiving notable sharp action today...
7:10 p.m. ET: Cincinnati Reds (14-15) at Cleveland Indians (17-13)
This in-state Interleague showdown features a pair of teams playing good baseball as of late. The Reds are 5-3 over their last eight games and just split a brief two-game series at home with the White Sox. Meanwhile, the Indians have won five straight and just swept the Royals on the road. Cleveland is 9-2 over their last eleven games. In tonight's series opener, the Reds send out lefty Wade Miley (3-2, 2.67 ERA) while the Indians counter with righty Zach Plesac (2-3, 4.78 ERA). This line opened with the Indians listed as a -130 home favorite and the Reds a + 120 road dog. Respected money looks to be backing the red-hot Indians at home as we've seen Cleveland rise from -130 to -140. So far this season, Interleague teams with a line move in their favor are 27-16 (63%). The Tribe are 9-4 as a favorite while the Reds are 4-6 as a dog. The Indians are 7-6 at home. The Reds are 4-8 on the road. Cincinnati will also be missing veteran slugger Joey Votto, who just broke his thumb. The Reds are 4-8 on the road this season. Cleveland is 7-6 at home.
7:20 p.m. ET: Philadelphia Phillies (17-15) at Atlanta Braves (15-16)
Both of these NL East rivals are red-hot and riding prolonged winning streaks. The Phillies just won four straight at home against the Brewers while the Braves just swept the Nationals in a three-game series on the road. In tonight's series opener, the Phillies hand the ball to righty Zach Eflin (1-1, 3.49 ERA) and the Braves start veteran Charlie Morton (2-1, 5.08 ERA). This line opened with the Braves listed as a -150 home favorite and the Phillies a + 140 road dog. Right off the bat, this opening line speaks volumes. If Philadelphia has a better record and their starting pitcher has better numbers, then why did the Braves open up as such a hefty favorite? The public is all over the Phillies and the plus money, but sharps smell a rat. Wiseguys have bought low on the Braves and steamed Atlanta from -150 to -160. The Phillies are just 4-9 on the road this season. We've also seen some under money show up. The total is 8.5 with heavy -120 juice to the under. Some shops look to be inching down to 8.
9:40 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay Rays (18-15) at Oakland Athletics (19-14)
This non-division matchup features two of the best teams in the American League going head-to-head. The Rays are riding a four-game winning streak and just swept the Angels on the road. Meanwhile, the Athletics just split a four-game series with the Jays at home. In tonight's series opener, the Rays start veteran lefty Rich Hill (1-1, 6.39 ERA) and the Athletics counter with fellow southpaw Sean Manaea (3-1, 3.48 ERA). This line opened with Oakland listed as a -140 home favorite and Tampa a + 130 road dog. The public is all over the A's at home with the "superior" starting pitcher on the mound. However, despite this lopsided support we've seen the A's fall from -140 to -132. This signals some sharp reverse line movement backing the streak Rays (+ 130 to + 123). The Rays have value as a dog off a win (6% ROI this season), a dog with a line move in their favor (5% ROI) and a sweet spot dog + 140 or less (8% ROI). In general, road dogs have done well this season, going 137-156 (47%) but producing a 12% ROI due to the plus money payouts. The Rays are 9-6 as a dog this season and 11-5 on the road.. The A's are 14-7 as a favorite and 11-10 at home. Oakland is -13 in run differential. Tampa Bay is + 4.